Medical and Behavioral Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation for veterinary or behavioral challenges is an essential part of caring for shelter pets and needs to be included as part of a comprehensive veterinary program. The fact of the matter is that, understandably, many pets that enter animal shelters are terrified. Some are injured. Others many have veterinary issues that have been neglected by their owners.
In a home, failure to provide needed are can be grounds for cruelty or neglect charges. It should be the same in our nation's animal shelters, that often have networks of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary students and trainers who are willing to offer services for free or at reduced rates. There is simply no excuse for failing to implement a rehabilitation program. Furthermore, with tremendous advancements happening in the fields of shelter medicine and behavior, success rates for treating conditions previously thought of as "untreatable" are skyrocketing.
In shelter medicine, for example, diseases like Parvo were thought to be fatal. Today, using proper vaccination, quarantine and isolation protocols, shelters are saving 95% or more of the puppies that come down with this disease, and without spending the thousands of dollars one would typically pay to have a Parvo pup treated in an intensive care ward.
In the area of behavior, the old, outdated so-called "temperament tests" are being done away with and are being replaced with more holistic and thoughtful programs that incorporate play and socialization. Something as simple as organized doggie play groups can not only help assess dog behavior more accurately than any "test," they provide important therapeutic socialization for dogs (see video left).
In short, failure to provide needed care and socialization for shelter pets is no way for a shelter to model responsible pet care.